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One of These Things Seems Like the Other…

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I made my feelings about writing books years ago. So I tend to ignore most of the industry news about how-to-write and how-to-get-published books. But in yesterday’s Publishers Marketplace there was a tidbit that gave me a sense of deja vu all over again.

Here’s the news item that caught my attention, from Monday, June 28:
“Mike Nappa’s 77 REASONS WHY YOUR LAST BOOK WAS REJECTED (and what you can do about them), a practical, engaging resource for aspiring writers that delivers insider information on why editors and agents decline books – and how to make them stop declining yours, to Peter Lynch at Sourcebooks, in a nice deal, for publication in Spring 2011, by Mike Nappa at Nappaland Literary Agency (World).”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Extremely helpful, right? But it also seems ridiculously similar to one of the few writing books that I do, wholeheartedly, endorse. Check out this Publishers Marketplace announcement from December 5, 2003:
“MacAdam/Cage founding editor Pat Walsh’s WHAT AM I DOING WRONG: 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published And 14 Reasons Why It Just Might, a smart, humorous and honest look at the relationship among editors, writers and publishers, filled with blunt and colorful advice to would-be authors wishing to avoid the blunders and bad directions that lead to rejection instead of publication, to Jane von Mehren at Penguin, at auction, for publication in 2005, by Amy Rennert (NA). ”

In spite of how it was listed in the original deal news, when Walsh’s book was actually published, it was titled 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might

Now, I’m fully aware that there are only so many ways people can present tips like “Personalize your query letters” and “Spellcheck your manuscript.” And one insider’s info is probably not vastly different than another insider’s info. So there will undoubtedly be some overlap between any and all writing and publishing books.

But really? You title a book 77 Reasons Why Your Last Book Was Rejected when there is already a book called 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published?

[For the record, titles are not protected by any copyrightcan’t copyright titles so you can’t accuse anyone of theft or anything legally untoward here. I just wonder what is it, exactly, about the seventies that must be so persuasive about publishing tips? Eighty is too much but sixty too little?]

Anyway, I don’t know how Nappa’s book will turn out. Hopefully, someone will find it useful. But in the meantime, pick up a copy of Walsh’s 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published today because it is definitely crammed full of useful, informative, and educational tips.